Welcome to a new Oxygen.ie series where our resident crazed sports guru Oisin McQueirns (Disclaimer: he neither resides here, nor is a qualified guru, nor we hope is certifiably ‘crazed’) delves into the weird and wonderful world of bizarre sports from around the planet; telling you a bit about their history, how they work, and of course what makes them so ridiculous. The second instalment in the series, this week’s article looks at the Finnish sport of Eukonkanto, or as it’s more commonly known; Wife-Carrying.
A Brief History:
According to the aptly named website http://www.wife-carrying.org/ , this wonderful sport first originated in Finland in the 1800s. Legend has it that its history is based around 19th century robber Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen and his gang of thieves, a bit like Robin Hood, except they may possibly steal your wife.
It is said that there are three ideas as to how and why the sport was invented. The first and decidedly most boring tale, is that Rosvo-Ronkainen used to make his pack of merry men carry big heavy sacks on their backs to make his thieves become faster and stronger. These hard labour and muscle strengthening aspects meant that it could have eventually evolved into a sport.
The second and slightly more sinister tale is that Rosvo-Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and women from villages in their area and carrying these poor, unfortunate and hopefully for their sake, light, women on their backs as they ran away. Hence the name Wife-Carrying.
The third and final, and my personal favourite story of how the sport of Wife-Carrying came to be, is that, it is said that young men would go to villages near their own and steal the wives of other men and then have the woman become their own wife. They were carried on the backs of these men and so the act of wife stealing was born. How wonderfully mental.
The first modern day Wife-Carrying event was held in Finland in 1992 with foreign contestants first being admitted in 1995. This event is now held annually as a world championship with around 47 different countries taking part.
How Do You Play:
Like most sports documented in this series I use the term “play” loosely. Essentially this is “a contest in which male competitors race while each carrying a female teammate”. Again, I use the term “teammate” loosely. What you must do is carry your female partner through a specially designed obstacle course in the fastest time. Simple.
There are however, quite a few rules set by, and I swear this is an actual committee, The International Wife-Carrying Competition Rules Committee. http://eukonkanto.shard.fi/participating_wife_carrying_world_championships_track_and_rules
For a start, there are three types of carrying techniques that can be used. There’s the piggyback, the fireman’s carry and the most common of them all, the Estonian style, where the wife hangs upside down with her legs around her husband’s shoulders grabbing onto his waist.
The track the competitors run is 253.5 meters long and has two dry obstacles and one water obstacle and the only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier and a helmet worn by the carried. Safety first I guess?
The minimum weight to be carried is 49kg so if you and your very light wife are sure fire favourites think again. Anyone under 49kg must carry a rucksack containing additional weight to bring the load up to the minimum weight. There’s no messing around here folks.
There’s also a fantastic and very much official rule which states that “All competitors must enjoy themselves.” What a sport.
What Makes This So Mental?
Well you don’t need to be an extremely well educated Oxygen.ie contributor to see why this is one of the craziest sports in the world. It is literally a competition to see who can carry their wife the quickest…Well actually, it kind of isn’t really?
You see, the woman you’re carrying doesn’t even have to be your wife at all! Per the official Wife-Carrying website http://eukonkanto.shard.fi/ , “The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbour’s or you may have found her farther ahead; she must, however, be over 17 years of age”. A game changing rule indeed.
There’s also the brilliant icing on the cake that is the prize for the winning team. The couple that complete the course in the fastest time wins the equivalent of the wife’s weight in beer. A prize worthy of a true champion.
The Oxygen.ie Scale Of Ridiculous Sports:
Ok, so this is a pretty ridiculous sport and even though it’s not nearly as crazy and violent the first sport in the series, Calcio Storico, Wife-Carrying is still one of the world’s most peculiar past times. It is however rather tongue in cheek and is often and some may argue, unfairly seen as a joke. For this reason, the sport of Eukonkanto, or as it’s more commonly known; Wife Carrying, gets a 7/10 on the Oxygen.ie scale of ridiculous sports.
Watch the 2015 Finnish edition of the race below;